New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has announced that she’s delaying the general election by a month citing a surge in coronavirus cases. The move has attracted attention in the US where Donald Trump floated a similar idea earlier.
Ardern announced the postponement of the election (from September 19 to October 17) on Monday after the country’s biggest city, Auckland, was forced into lockdown due to the growing number of coronavirus cases.
New Zealand’s director general of health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, reported that nine newly-confirmed coronavirus cases were detected in the Auckland cluster, which currently has 58 active cases.
A total of 86 people, both Covid-19 positive and those who have had contact with suspected cases, have been placed in quarantine wards.
In addition to the cases blamed on community transmission, there are also 20 active cases brought from overseas.
New Zealand has long been hailed by mainstream media as an example of how the pandemic should be handled, having celebrated 100 days without a single case of community transmission on August 9. The success has been credited to strict coronavirus measures Ardern imposed shortly after the disease began trickling into the island country in late February.
Announcing the decision to postpone the election, Ardern said that all parties would be given the time necessary “to campaign,” and the Election Commission would be given “enough time to ensure an election can go ahead.”
The move immediately sparked comparisons between Ardern and US President Donald Trump, who appears to be flirting with the idea, suggesting in a tweet last month that the presidential election could be delayed so “people can properly, securely, and safely vote.”
In the case of the US, however, it is not the head of state, but Congress, which has the final say whether the date of the election should be changed. And unlike New Zealand, where opposition parties welcomed the postponement, both Republicans and Democrats have been up in arms over a possible delay.
Still, online pundits have quickly drawn parallels between the situation in the two countries, arguing that people should hold Ardern to the same standards as Trump, when he was labeled a “dictator” and “fascist” for toying with the idea.
New Zealand delays election. New Zealand was held up by some people on my TL as the model of Corona response. Those same people say Trump is a fascist because he floated the idea of delaying our election. https://t.co/tA2hu3BTcz
“#ZeroCovid going well then. Didn’t Trump get attacked for suggesting something similar?” UK-based journalist Christopher Snowdon tweeted.
#ZeroCovid going well then. Didn’t Trump get attacked for suggesting something similar? https://t.co/OKYbiUyWI9
Some half-jokingly suggested that Ardern could have drawn inspiration for her move from Trump himself.
NEW ZEALAND’S ARDERN DELAYS ELECTION BY FOUR WEEKS TO OCT 17Did she get the idea from Trump?
Others even suggested that Trump might use New Zealand as a “precedent” (despite the differences in the countries’ political systems) to push for the delay.
Just in: Jacinda Ardern has delayed NZ elections for a month. Question: Does this set a precedent for Donald Trump?
“These are unprecedented times. I’m not suggesting it’s constitutional for him to do it, but wouldn’t put it past him trying,” Matt Thompson, senior producer at Australian 7NEWS, wrote.
Thanks for all the constitutional feedback. Understand the US is a different system. Understand they have fixed election dates. Point of the question, is you could potentially see Trump using something like this to cast doubt over the process. Certainly doesn’t make it right.
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